Quick Look At The First Season Of “The American” Women’s Basketball

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, UConn women's basketball Date:

American Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball
Last season: 35-4
Coach: Geno Auriemma, 29th season
Top Players: F Breanna Stewart,  C Stefanie Dolson, F Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
Keep an eye on:  G Bria Hartley is intent on having a strong senior year after battling an ankle injury last season. Stewart is the AAC’s preseason Player of the Year.
The skinny: The Huskies return approximately 90 percent of their offense from a team that won its eighth national championship last season.


Last season: 29-9
Coach: Jeff Walz, 7th season
Top Players: G Shoni Schimmel, F Sara Hammond, G Antonita Slaughter
Keep an eye on: After coming into her own last season, Schimmel will bring great confidence – and perimeter shooting – to Louisville’s offensive attack.
The skinny: The Cardinals leave for the ACC next season, but not before one more conference battle for supremacy with UConn, who has defeated them in national championship games twice (2009, 2013)
Southern Methodist
Last season: 21-10
Coach: Rhonda Rompola, 23rd season
Top Players: G Keena Mays, G Gabrielle Wilkins, F Akil Simpson
Keep an eye on: Mays was Player of the Year in Conference USA last season and made the AAC’s first preseason all-star team. She averaged 18.4 points last season and shot 40 percent from three.
The skinny: The Mustangs are without question the strongest import from Conference USA. They come off a third regular-season title, but have not played an NCAA Tournament game since 2008.
South Florida
Last season: 22-11
Coach: Jose Fernandez, 14th season
Top Players: G Inga Orekhova, C Akila McDonald, F Alisia Jenkins
Keep an eye on: Orekhova, a 6-2 native of the Ukraine, was selected to the AAC’s first preseason all-star team. She made 82 three-pointers last season
The skinny: This could be a big year for the Bulls who won their first NCAA Tournament game last season at Texas Tech before losing in overtime to Cal, which eventually played in the Final Four.
Last season: 14-18
Coach: Tonya Cardoza, 6th season
Top Players: G Tyonna Williams, G Rateska Brown, F Natasha Thames
Keep an eye on: Brown was second in scoring on the team last season (10.8) and will be counted on to take an even greater role.
The skinny: Cardoza, the former UConn assistant, is now in the same conference with her coaching mentor, Auriemma, and her best friend, Cincinnati coach Jamelle Elliott, who she coached and coached with at UConn.
Last season: 16-14
Coach: Vivian Stringer, 19th season
Top Players: F Betnijah Laney, G Kahleah Cooper, G Tyler Scaife
Keep an eye on: Laney was a prolific high school scorer in Delaware and a UConn recruit. She averaged 11.8 points in Big East play last season. But Scaife is the AAC’s Preseason Rookie of the Year.
The skinny: Rutgers leaves after the season for the Big 10, ending its long and notable association with UConn. Whether Stringer still be with the program is not clear.
Last season: 17-15
Coach: Melissa McFerrin, 10th season
Top Players: G Mooriah Rowser, G Ariel Hearn, F Asianna Fuqua-Bey
Keep an eye on: Hearn made the Conference USA All-Freshman team after averaging 13.8 points.
The skinny: McFerrin is a former WNBA assistant coach and GM. Last year’s team played in the WNIT, its fourth straight postseason. But this one has only two seniors and no juniors.
Last season: 12-18
Coach: Jamelle Elliott, 5th season
Top Players: G Dayeesha Hollins, F Tiffany Turner, G Kayla Cook
Keep an eye on: The maturation of G Alexis Durley into a starter was one of the bright spots last season. She is being heavily counted on this year.
The skinny: Elliott’s rebuilding process took a little slide in 2012-13.  But Hollins is an AAC preseason first-team pick who averaged 15.4 points last year.
Central Florida
Last season: 16-18
Coach: Joi Williams, 11th season
Top Players: G Brianna Jackson, G Bryeasha Blair, F Brittni Montgomery
Keep an eye on: Williams is a veteran coach with extensive USA Basketball experience at the U-18 and U-19 levels over the last three season.
The skinny:  The Knights, who played for the Conference USA title last season, have only five players returning from last season’s team. Seven new players join the roster.
Last season: 13-17
Coach: Todd Buchanan, 4th season
Top Players: F Marche Amerson, F Yasmeen Thompson, F Te’onna Campbell
Keep an eye on:  Amerson was named to the Conference USA’s All-Freshman team last season after averging 10.1 points in league play.
The skinny: The Cougars, 3-26 two seasons ago, return four starters and nine of their 10 letter-winners, encompassing almost 75 percent of its scoring.

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